Diary Of A Busker Day 526 Thursday March 20th 2014 Chichester (The Cross, Time: 11:36am-1:37pm, 3:00-3:55pm).
I thought I’d better come back here before my two month permit runs out. The last one I had, I never even used! …and I need to get out of Winchester, being a travellin’/wanderin’ minstrel and all that. Unfortunately, it’s rather cold and windy – not like the last few days at all. In fact, I’m already thinking of somewhere warm to go in the break.
1st. song – Albatross, and an old guy stands in front and says ‘You’re doing the bass part’. I confirm – ‘Yeah, that’s right’. He looks at the amp and says ‘Oh, you’re doing the melody’, and I again confirm – ‘Yeah, I am’. Now it’s – ‘You’re doing both at the same time’. I confirm – ‘Yep’. He can’t get his head around it – he thought the bass part was coming out of the guitar and the melody out of the amp. I could see him studying my fingers and trying to work out what was going on. I think he did, in the end.
He then starts talking about Chet Atkins, so I say I do some of his arrangements. Then he says – ‘Yeah? – and Mark Knopfler – he did an album with Chet Atkins’. I say I know, then he asks ‘How long you been playin’?’ Me – ‘Oh, a long time’. He – ‘You ever played professionally?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘Yeah? You played in studios?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘Anyone I’d know?’ Me – ‘No’. I then come to the end of Albatross, which I hadn’t stopped, then go into La Vie En Rose, which brings forth – ‘Ah, Chet Atkins’, from him, then from me – ‘Yes, this is one of his arrangements’. He – ‘I can tell it’s Chet Atkins…what’s it?…’ Me – ‘La Vie En Rose’. He – ‘Ah yes’. Me – ‘You don’t mind if I carry on playing while you’re talking to me, do you?’ He – ‘Oh no…so, you do your own music?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘And your own arrangements?’ Me – ‘Yeah, well, half are mine – about half, and half are, well…probably Chet Atkins!’ He – ‘Yeah? The thing I admire about you guys is how you remember it all’. Me – ‘Practice. Hundreds of times!’, because I speaketh the truth.
A kid comes up and puts a coin in the bucket and the old guy says ‘Well, I think you got a couple of pounds…I tried to play the guitar when I was young. I could play OK, not like you’. I say ‘Well, thank you’. He did contribute in the end. I didn’t think he would, in fact, he might not have if it wasn’t for the kid doing it. Who knows. He was a nice old bloke, though, so I didn’t mind talking to him.
Half an hour in, during The Third Man, a rather moronic-looking CPSO who’s been lurking about with his Smith & Wesson CPSO bike, stands next to me on my right. Here we go. I stop playing and say ‘Yes?’ – I didn’t even look at him, I just looked ahead. He says – ‘I notice you’ve got a sign on your…(bucket, but he doesn’t say anything)…about CD’. Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘Well, technically, you’re not allowed to sell anything. You need a street trader’s license’. Me – ‘Right’. He – ‘But I’ve been told to overlook that’. Why mention it, then? – I don’t say that, I don’t say anything. He – ‘Do you have a permit?’ Me – ‘Yes’. He – ‘Can I see it?’ So I produce said permit of officialdom – I’m pleased I’ve been able to use it, in a way, although this bloke’s getting on my nerves. He looks at it, then – ‘Right. I haven’t seen you here before’. Me – ‘I haven’t been here for a long time’. He – ‘Right…well, as I say, technically, you’re supposed to have a street trader’s license but I’ll overlook that’. Me, thinking he wants me to feel grateful to him and respect his ‘superiority’ – ‘Right, thanks’, and off he goes, to stand in front of the clock tower. He puts his bike on its kick-stand and he puts it in front of him, like a fence. Smith & Wesson bike – I bet if he’d had one of their guns he’d have twirled it round his finger like Wyatt Earp, to try to frighten me.
An old couple come up. The man’s got an Epiphone guitar from 1934, which he’s done up a bit and his son plays it now. More importantly, they buy a CD – a £9 one, which, of course, I’ve been allowed to sell. But wow! – they give me a £10 note and don’t want the pound back!! But I have to insist!? It just takes me a minute to find one – in my pocket (I don’t want to get one out of the bucket). And the song that secured the sale? – Ne Me Quitte Pas: Song Of The Day.
I do a long stretch: Two hours, before my break, and it really is quite cold, so I’m going to have to find somewhere after the toilet break…and there he is again – PC Plod, just around the corner from the toilets! I pass him but he doesn’t acknowledge me. Ooh, he’s a moronic bitch! After the toilet, I try and find a shopping mall so I can have my sandwich and get warmed up…but there isn’t one, so I end up having it near the entrance to an alleyway. At the other end there’s a sign – OXMARKET ART GALLERY – A PLACE TO VISIT…A PLACE TO EXIBIT! Hmm…I might go in there in a bit, after my lunch.
I get my sandwich out and there he is again – The ‘superior’ officer – CPSO Earp, down the road a bit, and looking at me. I imagine he’s receiving a message: ‘Control to (whatever his number is), keep an eye on that sonofabitch, he’s from outatown, ain’t ee?!’ Earp – ‘Yeaaah, he’s just started on his sandwich…don’t worry chief, I’m onto him’. (After five minutes) -‘He’s opened a bag of crisps, now, chief.’ Then he’s joined by another CPSO…then they go off. I don’t suppose there’s alot to do in Chichester. Hell, we’re all afraid to do anything, with these guys keepin’ such a godamn watchful eye on proceedins’, packin’ a punch with their Smith & Wesson…bikes!…yikes!
I have a short look in the gallery, then ask the girl at the desk if there’s a Waterstones anywhere nearby. I mean, why break with tradition? …and there is, opposite the cathedral, she says. On the way there, I pass PC Plod/Wyatt Earp, his mate, and if I’m not mistaken, CPSO Sean Trebble, who I’m, of course, well acquainted with. In fact, they’re right opposite the book shop. Imagined conversation: PC Earp – ‘There he is again…he’s goin’ in the bookshop, now’. Sean Treble – ‘Yeah, I know him. He’s from the city. He tried to play without a permit. I kicked him outa town, sonofabitch’.
In the bookshop: I’m not very warm – not downstairs, so I go upstairs, which isn’t much better, I have to say. I walk about for ten minutes then sit down and look through a book – Paris by Julian Green. The left side’s in French, the right’s in English. I would have bought it but ten quid’s a lot of money, and for a small book. I never really got warmed up – I might have if I’d stayed another ten minutes but I want to do another hour – that’ll make three, and leave town at four o’clock, and it’s 10 to 3 now.
Back out, I can’t decide where to set up: where I was, or down the road…but down the road there’s some workmen hammering the pavement. They’re not very loud but I can see it would get to me, so I go back to where I was…and it’s another S L O W start…painfully slow – my hands really did need a bit longer to recuperate/recover/unthaw/heal. The treble was, officer Trouble, I spent too long walking about and then I ate my lunch outside, too. Anyway, I eventually got some donations, after five songs, or so…
…then, at 3:40, PC Plod and another one – who I didn’t recognise, come up to me during Borsalino, and they don’t bother with any politeness – to wait until I finished the song, before they start on me. The one I don’t know does the talking:
‘When are you moving?’
‘In about five minutes, to the station’.
‘Cause you’ve been here a long time’.
‘I’m booked to play here’.
‘What, all day?’
‘Yeah, till five’.
‘Well, you’re supposed to move around’.
‘Well, I didn’t know that’.
‘Well, that’s why I’m telling you’.
‘Yeah, well you don’t have to say it in such an abrupt manner’.
‘I didn’t say it in an abrupt manner’.
‘Well, it sounded like it’.
‘I was just saying, you have to move around…so when are you moving?’
‘In five minutes, down the road’.
I don’t like PC Plod, who remained silent throughout the exchange, and I don’t like this guy, especially as it was down to him, not waiting for the end of the song – ‘When are you moving?’ – talking to me like a fucking vagrant, for Christ’s sake. Anyway, they go off and I resume Borsalino. A lady says ‘You’ve brightened up the afternoon’ – take that, you second-rate cops. You’ll never get beyond the CPSO level! Well, I really dragged on my FIVE minutes…until it became FIFTEEN, which is only another TEN, after all. And that’s it. The train at 4:26 was on time…I wrote down the first two pages on it. A hard day, though – £25 profit, after the train fare, and I was pretty knackered the rest of the evening.
Earnings: £38.16p – £13 (train fare) = £25.16 profit.